I have a severe allergy to animals. How do I protect myself while also respecting the rights of students with accommodation needs?
There are many ways to resolve this concern, and the Office of Disability Services is always happy to help brainstorm ideas with you. While many of these scenarios depend on the individual circumstances, there are some general ideas that can be considered. If it is dealing with two students in the same class, we sometimes see if they can be seated a far distance from each other or move one student to a different section if needed. If it is a faculty member or staff member interacting with a student, we again see if distance can help address the concern or look into options such as an air purifier. If the allergy is severe we encourage the student with the allergy to register with the Office of Disability Services, or the faculty/staff member to register with the Office of Employment Equity in order to ensure proper accommodations.
What if an animal is being disruptive or harmful? Can I request that the animal leave?
A fully trained service animal will be almost invisible in the classroom or other space they are in. A service animal or service animal in training must be under the control of its handler at all times. We suggest a warning about bad behavior, but then, yes, a staff person may request that the animal and their handler leave the space. However, the staff person must offer solutions to the person with a disability to fully participate in the activities of the class without the animal present.
What if someone else is fearful of animals?
We definitely acknowledge and respect every student’s right to feel safe and comfortable on campus. However, a student with a disability who needs their service animal to have equal access to campus should never be requested to leave a space because of someone else’s fear. We will do our best to maintain a safe and non-threatening learning environment for everyone. If there are any questions you can feel free to follow up with the Office of Disaiblity Serivces to talk about additional possible solutions.